The lady blush’d red, but nothing she said:
Nor added the Baron a word,
Then she stepp’d down the stair to her chamber fair,
And so did her moody lord.
In sleep the lady mourn’d and the Baron toss’d
And oft to himself he said:—
“The worms round him creep, and his bloody grave is deep.
It cannot give up the dead!”
It was near the ringing of matin-bell,
The night was well-nigh done,
When a heavy sleep on that Baron fell,
On the eve of good St. John.
The lady look’d through the chamber fair,
By the light of the dying flame;
And she was aware of a knight stood there—
Sir Richard of Coldinghame!
“Alas! away! away!” she cried,
“For the holy Virgin’s sake!”—
“Lady, I know who sleeps by thy side,
But, lady, he will not wake.
“By Eildon-tree, for long nights three,
In bloody grave have I lain;
The mass and the death-prayer are said for me,
But, lady, they are said in vain.
“By the Baron’s brand, near Tweed’s
Most foully slain I fell;
And my restless sprite on the beacon’s height,
For a space is doom’d to dwell.
“At our trysting place, for a certain space,
I must wander to and fro,
But I had not had power to come to thy bower,
Hadst thou not conjured me so.”
Love master’d fear—her brow she cross’d;
“How, Richard, hast thou sped?
And art thou saved or art thou lost?”—
The vision shook his head!
“Who spilleth life, shall forfeit life;
So bid thy lord believe:
That lawless love is guilt above,
This awful sign receive.”
He laid his left hand on an oaken beam,
His right upon her hand,
The lady shrunk, and fainting sunk,
For it scorched like a fiery brand.
The sable score, of fingers four,
Remains on that board impress’d,
And forever more that lady wore
A covering on her wrist.
There is a nun in Dryburgh bower,
Ne’er looks upon the sun,
There is a monk in Melrose tower,
He speaketh word to none.
That nun, who ne’er beholds the day,
That monk that speaks to none,—
That Nun was Smaylho’me’s Lady gay,
That monk the bold Baron.
“I am no love for you, Margaret,
You are no love for me.
Before to-morrow at eight of the clock,
A rich wedding you shall see.”
Fair Margaret sat in her bower-window
Combing her yellow hair;
There she espied sweet William and his bride,
As they were a-riding near.
Down she laid her ivory comb,
And up she bound her hair;
She went away out of her bower,
And never returned there.
When day was gone and night was come,
And all men fast asleep,
There came the spirit of fair Marg’ret,
And stood at William’s feet.